October dates in Virginia history
October 7, 1763
King George III establishes the Proclamation Line of 1763 prohibiting colonial
exploration and settlement west of the Appalachian Mountains voiding any previous claims there. Many
Virginians ignore this decree and push west anyway.
October 7, 1849
Edgar Allan Poe, noted Richmond writer and poet, dies in Baltimore, Maryland.
October 8, 1869
The Virginia General Assembly meets to ratify the Fourteenth and
Fifteenth Amendments, a prerequisite for readmission to the Union.
October 11, 1809
Meriwether Lewis is found dead at an inn near Nashville, Tennessee. The
cause of his death still remains a controversy, although most historians believe it was by his hand.
October 12, 1773
The "Public Hospital of Insane and Disordered Minds" opens in
Williamsburg—the nation's first hospital devoted exclusively to the care of the mentally ill. Today this
institution is known as Eastern State Hospital.
October 12, 1818
Elizabeth Van Lew, who would serve as a union spy during the
Civil War, is born in Richmond. After the war President Grant would name her postmistress for the
city of Richmond.
October 12, 1870
Civil War general Robert E. Lee dies while serving as president
of Washington College in Lexington. The college is renamed Washington and Lee in his honor.
October 15, 1954
Hurricane Hazel blows into Virginia after coming ashore in North
Carolina as a category 4 hurricane. This storm lays a track of destruction all the way from Virginia,
Pennsylvania, New York, and Canada.
October 16, 1859
John Brown, a northern abolitionist, leads what he calls an "Army
of Liberation" and raids a federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia, with the intention of arming slaves
for rebellion. The group includes twenty-one whites and free blacks. Brown is captured and eventually hanged.
October 21, 1804
The Lewis and Clark expedition arrives at the Mandan Indian
villages on the upper Missouri River. Here the explorers spend their first winter and meet the woman
who would prove invaluable to the rest of their journey, Sacagawea.
October 22, 1774
Peyton Randolph, head of the Virginia delegation to the first Continental Congress,
takes office as the first president of Congress in Philadelphia.
October 25, 1888
Richard Evelyn Byrd, naval aviator and explorer, is born in Winchester.
October 26, 1676
Nathaniel Bacon dies of dysentery in Gloucester, and with him dies Bacon's
Rebellion. His supporters bury him in a secret location to protect his remains from the wrath of Governor William
Berkeley and his followers.
October 29, 1781
Around noon, in Yorktown, British officers deliver a surrender signed by
General Cornwallis to American and French forces, effectively ending the Revolutionary War.
October 30, 1800
Governor James Monroe orders the execution of Gabriel for his involvement
in planning a large-slave revolt in Richmond and the surrounding area.
October 31, 1895
The Jefferson Hotel opens one week ahead of schedule. Lewis Ginter,
a Richmonder who amassed a fortune by marketing rolled cigarettes, foots the $5-million-plus bill for the construction.
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